Interview by Barry Egan
Colin Devlin — one brother of the eponymous The Devlins and a solo artist of some note too — lives in Los Angeles. Mercifully, the Newry man doesn’t have the La La Land accent. Yet.
Asked what cliches are true about his adopted home-town, he smiles and says: “People really do say ‘awesome’ way too much, and every person who serves you in a restaurant or picks you in a taxi is an actor, and only doing it part time until their ‘big gig’ happens.
“I’m back and forth quite a bit,” he continues, “Ireland will always be home, most of my family are here. We moved to LA six years ago.”
Colin and his wife actress Sonya Macari have a young daughter, Evie.
“There have been a lot of opportunities in LA that perhaps might not have been available to me to the same extent in Ireland. As well as writing and recording my own music, I’ve also started to do film scoring, and co-writing as well as producing other artists.
“I’m always looking forward but I gain experience every year, and I guess I’m putting all that knowledge and experience into my work. Also, my wife is an actress — and LA is obviously where a lot of the work happens.”
The quietly spoken, slightly enigmatic singer-songwriter is in Dublin to record U2’s Love Is Blindness for the Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie. His voice jumping with emotion, Colin sings (and he has a powerful set of lungs on him) Bono’s words:
‘In a parked car/ In a crowded street/ You see your love/ Made complete.’
“I’ve always loved the lyrics to the song,” Colin says. “They’re so heavy — but in a beautiful way, and I feel connected to it when I sing it. Perhaps it’s growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, or perhaps it’s because Joe O’Herlihy — U2’s sound engineer — brought us in to the studio when they were recording Achtung Baby!”
“We were just starting out,” he says referring to the band The Devlins, which he formed with his brother Peter. “And it was amazing to see this sprawling recording set up in a house overlooking Dalkey Island! I still remember it vividly.”
Master Devlin is also on this side of the pond to publicise his sublime new release On New Year’s Day.
“It is a song about taking stock and appreciating who and what you have to be grateful for — and also about looking forward to new possibilities,” he says.
“In some ways, anything seems possible as a new year begins. I’d been out last New Year’s Day for a walk around Powerscourt in Wicklow with my wife Sonya and our new daughter Evie.
“We talked about the year and what our hopes were for the coming year, and I basically went home and wrote On New Year’s Day on the piano that evening. It’s like a conversation.
“It’s just voice and piano, and a gorgeous string arrangement written by close friend and Irish composer Brian Byrne, who is also based in LA.”
How would you describe the music Colin Devlin makes?
“I think my music definitely sets out to evoke a certain mood— it’s atmospheric, emotive, lyrical, Irish, and in some ways I suppose it seems somewhat nostalgic.
“It’s certainly cinematic, we’ve had so many songs used over the years in film and TV, so it obviously suits that medium.”
You can now also watch Independent.ie’s Windmill Lane Sessions on TG4.
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